One of the most common problem Exchange Administrators face is how to test Exchange ActiveSync in a Lab, while nowadays most of us own a smart phone which is ActiveSync capable I doubt many people like to use their personal or work phone to perform tests especially if the remote wipe capability is going to be tested.
In the post I will show how to build an ActiveSync Test lab where you can experiment with the various functions of ActiveSync without compromising your device.
Exchange ActiveSync Test Lab – Installing the SDK
Microsoft made available a copy of the Windows 8 phone SDK which emulates a fully featured Windows phone for testing and development purposes, this means we can use the SDK to run a virtual Windows Phone for our test lab, all that is needed is the package that can be downloaded from this page.
Once you have downloaded the setup file just go through the installation accepting the default parameters, the various steps will not be covered here as they are really trivial even if time-consuming due to the fact that multiple components will need to be downloaded and installed.
As previously mentioned the SDK is mainly geared toward developers and the Windows Phone image should be launched through Visual Studio, luckily enough you don’t need it to make the image run. In a new text file paste the text below and save the file with CMD extension, mine is called WPhone.cmd:
"C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft XDE8.0XDE.exe" /vhd "C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft SDKsWindows Phonev8.0EmulationImagesFlash.vhd" /video "720x1280" /memsize 1024 /language 409 /creatediffdisk "%Temp%dd.720x1280.1024.vhd" /fastShutdown
Among the various switches in the above command the most important one is /creatediffdisk as the name implies this will force XDE to use a differencing disk so that any change made at runtime will not be saved in the base VHD file, if you are interested in learning more about available switches simply rung XDE.exe /?
To launch the Windows Phone image you would simply double-click on the previously created CMD file but if, like me, you are running Windows 8.1 you will see the following error:
This is a known compatibility issue which is easily solved installing Visual Studio 2012 update 4 which can be downloaded Microsoft Download Center, once the update has been installed simply double-click the CMD file and after a couple of seconds the image will boot up allowing you to access the Virtual Windows Phone:
The emulated phone is fully featured meaning you can use ActiveSync to connect to your Exchange server for testing purposes, in subsequent posts I will dig deep into ActiveSync troubleshooting for Exchange Server and also illustrate how to set-up a virtual Android device for the purpose of testing different configurations so be sure to stay tuned and check back the blog.
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